CBS Analyst Castigates Kobe For Donning “I Can’t Breathe” T-Shirt

This pisses us off a lot. After Kobe Bryant and his Lakers teammates joined first Derrick Rose, then LeBron James and a host of others by rocking a “I can’t breathe” t-shirt before last night’s game against Sacramento, CBS broadcasting analyst, Doug Gottlieb, sent a tweet reading: “Kobe lives in Newport Coast, takes a chopper to games, made $60 last 2 years…the struggles is real #ICANTBREATH.” Besides misspelling “breathe,” Gottlieb displayed his inability to understand the meaning behind the statement many other wealthy African-American NBA players, and millions of others have made over the last week in support of dead New Yorker, Eric Garner.

Here’s the tweet in question, which Gottlieb has obviously since taken down:

If you’re unfamiliar, and we don’t see how you could be since it’s dominated headlines for a while now, Garner perished in July while being detained by police for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes. The 43-year-old’s last words after being put in a chokehold by the arresting officer were “I can’t breathe.” The chokehold lasted 19 seconds and Garner was pronounced dead at the hospital an hour later.

The officer who applied the fatal move, Daniel Pantaleo, was not indicted by a grand jury last week. The grand jury’s decision, when combined with the similar decision not to indict the police officer in Missouri who shot another unarmed black man, Michael Brown, has led to a series of protests throughout the country by men and women of all creeds, colors and socioeconomic backgrounds.

As Jack Winter noted last night, the phrases “I Can’t Breathe!,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” have become rallying cries for those disgusted with the continuing impunity of police officers who use violence against African-American citizens, which in no way matches the crimes they’ve been accused of committing.

Kobe’s affluence, the zip code he inhabits off the court, and his transport to the game is in NO WAY related to his decision to wear an “I can’t breathe” t-shirt during warmups before last night’s game.

First, the offending shirts were laid out on the back of every Laker chair before the game, making it seem like a team-wide decision by all players:

Second, LeBron James and Derrick Rose are similarly financially comfortable like Kobe, and Gottlieb didn’t send any tweet about them when they chose to wear the same shirts.

Third, Gottlieb is white, and has never experienced what it’s like to be a black man in America; although, perhaps it’s time he at least try and empathize with people who don’t share his paler pigment.

Fourth, the NBA is overwhelmingly African-American, and it’s nice to see they’re free to stand up on social issues, despite commissioner Adam Silver‘s reluctant discomfort with the idea.

Fifth, if the Donald Sterling and Danny Ferry fiascos in the NBA over the last year have taught us anything, its that there’s a much more pernicious strain of racism woven within American culture. A type of racism that covertly lurks in the shadows and can’t be trampled out as easily as segregation or the publicly malicious use of the n-word by Caucasians.

Race is America’s Original Sin, after the slave trade supported the Southern United States economy for most of the first century of the country’s founding. All the horses**t comments — almost exclusively from white Americans — that the United States is now some post-racial wonderland after we elected an African-American President dangerously ignores reality.

If Doug Gottlieb can’t grasp the context behind Kobe — and a lot of others in the NBA — wearing a shirt in support of Garner, then perhaps he shouldn’t tweet at all about the subject. His Twitter profile reads like an excuse, too: “CBS Personality — Tweets are meant to relate my snarky commentary on the world…nothing else.”

Gottlieb’s Kobe tweet was not snark, it was just some naive stupidity, which — unfortunately — continues to predominate the conversation around the Garner and Brown events.

Do you agree with Gottlieb? If so, why?

Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.